Caitlan Gannam | Clarion

DU’s women’s basketball team started slow against North Dakota State on Saturday, but the Pioneer offense went off, overpowering the Bison, 98-79. The Pioneers improved to 11-8 and 2-2 in the Summit League, while NDSU fell to 7-11 and 0-4 in the Summit.

Sophomore guard Lauren Loven (Scottsdale, Ariz.) led the Crimson and Gold to the victory with 18 points. Three other Pioneers scored in double figures including freshman guard Claire Gritt (Arlington Heights, Ill.) with 17, freshman forward Grace White (Redby, Minn.) with 13 and senior forward Jordyn Alt (North Oaks, Minn.) who added 12, guiding the team to a high end score of 98.

As a team, the Pioneers shot 42.One percent from both the field (32-for-76) and behind the arc (16-for-38). A previous season high of 15 three-pointers against Chadron State was replaced, as the squad let 16 three-pointers fall for the new season-high.

Denver earned 46 total rebounds, handed out 20 assists and forced 18 turnovers from the Bison. Gritt led the team in rebounds with eight, while senior guard Ciera Morgan (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) counted six assists.

The Bison started the game strong, with a 7-2 lead early in the first half. But, DU was quick to respond, with four unanswered points from Alt and junior guard Samantha Romanowski (Mountlake Terrace, Wash.).

The Bison led by at least one point throughout the first quarter, but with just one minute to play, Romanowski drained Denver’s first three of the contest and slashed the North Dakota State lead to only three.

At the end of the first quarter, the Bison continued to control the momentum, leading 21-16. In the second quarter, the Pioneers refused to give up, and Denver found its niche offensively outscoring North Dakota State 14-2 over the next five minutes, thanks to threes from sophomore guard Briana Johnson (Carson, Calif.), White and Alt.

A deepshot from Gritt, followed by a free throw from sophomore forward Madison Nelson (Dover, Minn.) put the Pioneers up by eight at halftime, 47-39. The eight-point lead was the biggest advantage the Pioneers held in the first half.

The offense continued to roll for the Pioneers into the second half, as the team outscored the Bison 5-2 to start the third period, pushing its lead to 11.

After North Dakota State cut the lead down to eight, Gritt scored two and drew a foul. Despite missing the free throw, the Pioneers got the ball back and sophomore guard Abi Curtin (Sydney, Australia) put up a three, giving the squad a lead of 11.

Just a few moments later, with NDSU down by only nine, DU used a 13-5 run, highlighted by threes from Gritt and Loven to extended the advantage to 17 points, 72-55.

Continuing to fight, North Dakota State outscored Denver, 5-2 over the final two minutes of the third, but the Pioneer squad still held the lead, 76-60.

The Bison got within 12 points thanks to a Reilly Jacobson layup with just over seven minutes to play. But the DU advantage was too much for North Dakota State to overcome, resulting in the 98-79 victory in Denver’s favor.

Denver returns to the court on Thursday, as they head to Omaha to face the Mavericks.